Overwhelmed? Stressed? Anxiety Ridden? How Many of us Feel This Way?

Buying stuff WILL NOT make us happier.  Having the latest and greatest gadgets WILL NOT make us happier.  Working our asses off and saving up for ‘retirement’ WILL NOT make us happier!  So don’t let it happen!


Over the course of 9 months in 2017, my partner and I sold all of our possessions, including 2 vehicles, and a house full of stuff. In order to sell the house for its maximum value, we also completed 3 months of renovations that had been lingering for over 3 years. We wrapped up 2 businesses and left a town and tight knit community that we both cherished. We did all of this in order to seek out a life of freedom, away from the hustle and bustle of the 9-5 life, but most importantly, we did it so that we could travel. This is our story…….


In recent weeks, my email inbox has started to receive a few kind messages from different people letting me know that our story is inspiring them in some way.  Whether they are living vicariously through our travels, or they are struggling with getting rid of an overload of ‘things’ in their lives, they are reaching out.

The other day I received the following message from Arnold.  With permission from Arnold, I am able to post his letter here (copied and pasted as written) with the hopes that others will learn from, or be inspired by his story.  He writes:


Hello, I enjoyed reading your story very much.  I am currently at a crossroads myself. I am sixty years old and living in the house I inherited from my parents. This is my fifth house but the only one with only a fifty thousand dollar mortgage left. My dad passed five years ago and I moved from Vegas to Connecticut to be a caretaker for my handicapped mother. She passed a year ago. Because caring for my mom was a full time job I have not worked in five years. I do play in a very popular band which plays about 120 gigs a year but don’t earn much money. In fact I am in debt up to my neck. Getting shut off notices from everyone. I have even been driving without car insurance for two weeks. This alone keeps me awake at night. The house like yours needs a great deal of work but I don’t have the resources to make these repairs. It is currently up for sale as is. Some interest but not a lot. If I do sell I might walk away with $100,000.00. Not much but I need to find a way to unplug from getting a bill from someone every time I turn around. And like you I am governed by my stuff. I have three cars. WTF. I am coming around slowly to getting rid of stuff. Hard for me but I know in my heart and more importantly in my head that it is the right thing to do. One thing that I liked about your story is you live in Costa rica. I have heard many great things about this region and would like to learn more. I have no problem living outside the US because everything, EVERYTHING is so expensive. I know I am not framing my thoughts very clearly but just wanted to say hello and hope that your story inspires me. I want to live life and be happy. I don’t want to be burdened with to much responsibility. Been there done that. Raised four kids and had a business that made millions. All gone. lol I just want simple. I want to unplug and detach from the norm or what’s expected of me. In a way I blame my parents generation. They instilled in us that success was measured by how big your house was, how pretty your wife is, and how smart your kids are. Bullshit. All this mentality does is chain you to seeing these things come to fruition. Work the same job for decades to keep it going. Well I’m going to try to find Minimalism now and watch it. Thank you for lisening. Arnold.


My question is this:  How many of us feel this way?  How many of us are overwhelmed and desperately just want to unplug from it all?

There are a few key points to discuss in Arnolds message, and I will attempt to break them down below.

  1. “I’m in debt up to my neck.”
    • This is a sentiment that rings familiar with so many people across the Western World.  Societies push to have the ‘latest and greatest’ gadgets has created an overbearing consumer society.  People simply do not have the money to purchase items, but they use their credit cards to do so instead with the hope to pay it off someday.  Arnold is certainly not alone in this!  In fact, here is a link to the average debt that American Households have, and being a Canadian, I can guarantee that these stats are just as applicable there as well.

      Here’s the Typical American’s Debt Load

  2. “I do play in a popular band……..”
    • I have to say…….KUDDOS to Arnold for continuing to do what he loves, despite the overwhelming pressure (likely) to get a job to pay off his debt.  If Arnold didn’t do what he loved, he would likely be much further along down the Rabbit Hole of depression.  Stress and Anxiety have reached EPIC proportions in the US and beyond.  It is CRUCIAL to unplug from your worries of life, by being creative in some way.
  3. “if I do sell, I might walk away with $100 000. Not much………”
    • $100 000 in Canada and the US, definitely is NOT MUCH money.  But, after living in Central America for over a year now, I can certainly attest that it is PLENTY for down here.  Chris and I housesit as much as we can, or find locals houses to rent in other places where we aren’t housesitting.  In Flores, Guatemala, we rented a 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom house with a beautiful deck overlooking a lake for $225/month.  When we shopped at the market, we would spend about $15-$20 for a week of produce.  Eating out was also inexpensive.  Even in the nicest restaurants in Flores, our meal cost would top out at $30, for both of us, including a couple drinks each, but we also frequently visited the street food stalls that usually charge no more than $4 for a very fulfilling meal.
    • I haven’t kept perfect accurate records of our expenses, but I estimate that the last year of living has cost us about $15 000.  Bear in mind that this does include some travelling and staying in Air BnB’s, plus a flight from Costa Rica to Guatemala.  This is everything combined.  In Arnolds case, if he stayed in one place, and lived like the locals, he could likely get by on $7000-$10 000 per year.  Suddenly, with no bills to pay, and all of his debts paid off, Arnold’s $100 000 will go a seriously long way!
  4. “I am governed by my stuff……”
    • This is an all too familiar sentiment for so many people.  I myself was completely governed by my stuff.  And worse, I didn’t even realize it.  Watching the Minimalism documentary, opened my eyes up to the fact that my stuff was controlling my life.  I had spent years building up mountains of stuff all around me, yes I too wanted ‘the latest and greatest’ gadgets.  My life ran off of credit, house payments, loan payments, car payments……the list goes on and on.
    • After living for over a year with only what I can carry around with me, I can tell you with 100% authority that WE DO NOT NEED ALL THAT STUFF!  Sure you might need a few things here and there to make your life comfortable.  But in Arnolds case, he has 3 cars!  What does one person need 3 cars for?!  When we sold our cars back in Canada, we vowed never to own a money pit like that again!  It is one of the largest expenses that we have in the North!  Insurance, gas, car payments, maintenance…….it all adds up to being so much money!  Then when you go to sell it, it is worth basically nothing.
    • In the last year we have ridden on buses, tuk tuks, taxis and any other means of public transport.  When we can, we walk!  We haven’t walked as much in the last year as we have for most of our lives, I’m sure.  When walking isn’t an option, riding public transport is always affordable.  The people down here rely on these services because many of them certainly can’t afford a vehicle.  They are well used, and cheap!  There is no need for vehicles in any place that we have lived so far.  Sure, having a car would have made our lives a little easier in some spots, but we didn’t NEED one.  That is the difference.  Up north we buy things (whether we can afford them or not) because we WANT them, not because we NEED them.  It’s important to create this distinction for yourself and figure out what it is that you only NEED.  Get rid of the rest! Click here for my blog post about How to sell all of your things to travel full time. Even if travelling isn’t your end game, it will give you insights into how to tackle selling at least some of your possessions.
  5. “Had a business that made Millions. All gone. I just want simple.”
    • It is with sadness that I hear this.  Arnold obviously had a productive life back in his younger years.  Made lots of money, bought lots of stuff.  But where has that gotten him?  Here he is at the end of it all, saddled with debt, an overwhelming amount of stuff, and trying to figure out how to get himself out of it all. How many people have worked so hard their whole lives, just to get to this same place?
    • Well, I’m here to tell you that NO MATTER HOW OLD YOU ARE, it is NOT TOO LATE!  At 60 years old, Arnold hopefully has much time ahead of him.  But you know what?  None of us know just how much time that we have.  It is so important to take the steps to make you happy NOW!  Life is short, and we really need to make it count!  I can not STRESS this point enough!
    • After realizing that I had too much stuff, and also realizing that I constantly was trying to figure out ways that I could do more travelling, I FINALLY came to the conclusion that my stuff was getting in the way of it all.  If I wasn’t burdened with all the stuff, all the bills, all the RESPONSIBILITY, I could unplug from it all, and head out into the world to travel freely.  This realization was the single most important lightening bolt moment that I have ever had.  But the thing is, I acted on it!  I didn’t just sit there and feel sorry for myself.  I got busy!  I started selling things!  In a small amount of time, things snowballed and we kept at it.  And in 9 short months, we were heading off on a totally different adventure in life.
  6. “In a way I blame my parents generation.”
    • Yes, I can understand this sentiment.  Society has structured our lives in such a way that in order to succeed at life, we need to go to college, get a job, find a husband or wife, have kids, work our butts off, then retire.  I agree with Arnold, it is all BULLSHIT.  But you know what?  We can change the dialogue any time that we choose to.  WE can decide that we don’t want to live that way, and that alone is where our power is.
    • Having lived in Central America for the last 13 months, has taught me that there is much more to life than all of this.  Granted, nobody here can figure out why we don’t want kids…..but that’s a totally different story.  But no, here they know how to enjoy life.  If they need to work, they go out and find work.  If a restaurant owner is tired from partying the night before, they simply don’t open the next day.  If a group of men are sitting around on a porch on a Wednesday afternoon drinking, nobody questions it.  Nobody gets mad at the restaurant owner, they just go somewhere else.  Nobody wonders why the men aren’t working, it’s none of their business.
    • There is no pressure to be as busy as you can be.  There is no pressure to work yourself into exhaustion.  There is no pressure to ‘get a real job’.  People in this culture ENJOY their lives.  They live for the day, they live for the moment.  They don’t worry about some far off distant place called ‘retirement’.  If they feel like going fishing for a day to feed their family, instead of working to buy groceries, then they will do that instead.  The community spirit is strong, and neighbours support neighbours.  They work together to help each other if they need it, and everybody has SOMETHING to share with others, despite seeming like they have nothing at all.  It is a beautiful thing!

I know that Arnolds story is not unique.  I know that MILLIONS of people are feeling just like he is, in many parts of the world.  Trying to fit into societies standards has been a great undoing of the western worlds culture.  Until we realize that, individually, we need to live life to the fullest, be our happiest, and do what we love, the world will continue to dump its expectations on us, and we will continue to be over worked, over tired, and over run with anxiety and depression.

Buying stuff WILL NOT make us happier.  Having the latest and greatest gadgets WILL NOT make us happier.  Working our asses off and saving up for ‘retirement’ WILL NOT make us happier!  So don’t let it happen!

It is time that we all, individually, started living life to be happy.  Find something that fills your soul and try not to worry about the money.  If you put your best out into the world, you will be rewarded in some way.  Things will fall into place all around you, and you will be surprised by what life has to offer.  Be a role model for your friends!  Show them how life can really be lived!  Show them how they too can be happy and stress free!

Thank you Arnold, for writing me to let me know where you are at in your process.  And for all of you others out there, that are feeling the same way as Arnold, please don’t hesitate to share YOUR story with me.  I really do care about helping you to become a better version of yourself!  You can do it!  I know you can, and I am cheering you on 100%!


Thanks for reading! Please know that above all else, I aim to inspire others to just get out and see the world. Traveling is such an enriching experience, and I can’t even comprehend how much it has shaped me as an individual. If you have ANY questions, or need travel advice of ANY kind, PLEASE don’t hesitate to email me at the address below! I will do my very best to help you in any way I can!

Xoxoxo Happy Travels!


Current Location: Livingston, Guatemala

Travelling Plans: We are housesitting here until the beginning of January 2019.

To head back to the beginning of our journey, and the moment we decided to sell all of our possessions to travel the world, click here.

To see many travelling photos and to learn about where we are travelling, please follow our Facebook and Instagram accounts by clicking on the appropriate icon in the right hand column.

To learn about where I have previously traveled, visit my Countries Page.

To see all of my blog post headings on one page, (including all of the ones about letting our stuff go) head over to my Blog Post Menu.

To contribute to our Patreon account, please click here.

To learn about housesitting, please click here.

To email me directly, please do so anytime at jillamatt@me.com.

If you like my writing, and want to follow along on our journey, please put your email address in the right hand column to subscribe. That way all of my posts will go straight to your email inbox:)

Pieces falling into place……

You see, I drew this image before I had ever visited an island, before I had ever been anywhere that I may have seen something like this.


Over the course of 9 months in 2017, my partner and I sold all of our possessions, including 2 vehicles, and a house full of stuff. In order to sell the house for its maximum value, we also completed 3 months of renovations that had been lingering for over 3 years. We wrapped up 2 businesses and left a town and tight knit community that we both cherished. We did all of this in order to seek out a life of freedom, away from the hustle and bustle of the 9-5 life, but most importantly, we did it so that we could travel. This is our story…….


This morning this image came up on my Facebook timeline.  It was from 4 years ago.

Basement Wall

At first glance, this image just looks like a bunch of kids scribbles, like children were let loose to live out their wildest fantasies of scribbling on the wall.

It was an exciting day.  My partner had just procured his first air brush, a type of device used to paint, using paint and air pressure to spray the paint out of a nozzle.  We both were excited and needed a palette to play on.  It’s the sort of thing that takes time to get good at, and practice is a necessity.

We decided that this wall, in our recreation room, in our basement, was the perfect place to scribble and play with our new toy, and indeed we did both feel like kids going wild, if for only a short time.

Today when it popped up on my Facebook timeline as a memory from 4 years ago, I smiled at the memory and almost dismissed it as just that, a fond memory.  But then, I noticed a familiar word in it all.

You may notice in the middle in red, the word is TRAVEL.  It’s a scribbly mess, but it is there none-the-less.  I immediately thought back to where I was 4 years ago in my life, and what my life was like.

4 years ago, I was still recovering from a broken marriage and honestly, a shattered life.  I had lost myself in my 30’s.  I had been trying so hard to conform to what society had expected of me, that I completely forgot about what was important to me.  Through my 30’s I started multiple business’, I bought and sold multiple houses (never really making money on any of them), I worked at trying to save a marriage, but ended up letting it go as it wasn’t serving me anymore, I worked tirelessly and endlessly to make ends meet.  But no matter what I did, it never seemed like enough.

4 years ago, I was JUST starting to realize that I hadn’t travelled overseas in 8 years!  This may seem normal to some, but coming from a girl who spent her teens and 20’s travelling as much as she could, this was significant.

4 years ago, it seems, I was starting to put the pieces of my life back together.

I was 1 year into a new and healthy relationship with a supportive and loving partner, I was working as much as I could on my artwork, trying to make a name for myself in my small community, and clearly, I was starting to think about travelling again.

Also around that time, my partner tattooed (InkCap Art) the following on my foot.

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The symbolism in this piece, that was designed by us together, is that I wanted to start living a life that was exciting and bold. One that would make me ecstatic to get out of bed in the morning.  One that was fulfilling and exciting.

Of course, the symbolism of the planet relates to travelling, but there is also another interesting symbol in this.  The Palm Tree.

There is something about Palm Trees that excite my soul.  Maybe it’s just being near them, which means that I need to be in warmer climates, but I also somehow feel like in a past life, they have been a big part of me somehow.

When I was 5 years old, I also created the following image:

Kindergarten Plate

In the small town that I grew up in, making these plates was a right of passage in Kindergarten.  Every person that I went to Kindergarten with made one of these plates.

And although I let it go in my big purge before coming on this trip, and sometimes I get a pang of regret about it, I remind myself that it isn’t the physical item that is important, it is the image on it that matters the most.

You see, I drew this image before I had ever visited an island, before I had ever been anywhere that I may have seen something like this.  My 5 year old mind concocted this picture seemingly out of thin air.

Of course, the trees don’t necessarily look like Palm Trees, but I like to think that this is a  deserted tropical island in the South Pacific somewhere.  Because as long ago as I can remember, I have dreamt of tropical turquoise water, white sandy beaches and palm trees.


So you see, travel has been a part of me for as long as I can remember, even before I ever did any of it.  It’s a deep seated feeling that I have, and I will not be satisfied in life ever again, unless it is taking a front seat in my manifestations.

4 years ago I was just starting to realize that I had spent the majority of my 30’s NOT travelling.  I was just starting to put the pieces of a broken marriage, and a somewhat broken life, back together again. 

With a new relationship established, it was time to start building a new life and new dreams.  Obviously, travel was a part of that vision, and this was likely part of the start of the manifestation of what we are doing now. 

As these memories pop up on Facebook, I realize that this life we have created was just a tiny seed that was planted so many years ago.  It has taken time for me to start listening to the voices in my head, to the yearning and the want to get back to travelling. 

It took me realizing that the reason I wasn’t travelling was because I was so busy building a life that wasn’t conducive to travelling, that it became impossible.  Until I finally figured out that the life I had created for myself was actually IN THE WAY to my travelling, I wasn’t able to realize my dream.

But here we are!  We are doing it! I miraculously figured it out!  

THIS is the power of envisioning and manifesting our dreams.  We must keep at it, day by day, minute by minute.  Do NOT let your dreams go.  Keep them at the forefront of your mind, and you too will eventually bring them to reality. 

Pura Vida from Costa Rica!


Thanks for reading! Please know that above all else, I aim to inspire others to just get out and see the world. Traveling is such an enriching experience, and I can’t even comprehend how much it has shaped me as an individual. If you have ANY questions, or need travel advice of ANY kind, PLEASE don’t hesitate to email me at the address below! I will do my very best to help you in any way I can!

Xoxoxo Happy Travels!


Current Location: We are currently in Samara, Costa Rica.  After having to leave Nicaragua unexpectedly due to civil unrest, we are here still figuring out where we want to go next.

Travelling Plans: We have nothing scheduled at this point other than a housesitting job in Livingston, Guatemala in late November.

To head back to the beginning of our journey, and the moment we decided to sell all of our posessions to trave the world, click here.

To see many travelling photos and to learn about where we are travelling, please follow our Facebook and Instagram accounts by clicking on the appropriate icon in the right hand column.

To learn about where I have previously traveled, visit my Countries Page.

To see all of my blog post headings on one page, (including all of the ones about letting our stuff go) head over to my Blog Post Menu.

To contribute to our Patreon account, please click here.

To email me directly, please do so anytime at jillamatt@me.com.

If you like my writing, and want to follow along on our journey, please put your email address in the right hand column to subscribe. That way all of my posts will go straight to your email inbox:)

The House that Amanda Built – Earth Bag Building in Nicaragua

Having ditched the North American 9-5 rat race at the age of 24, she decided that it was time for a simpler life.


Over the course of 9 months in 2017, my partner and I sold all of our possessions, including 2 vehicles, and a house full of stuff. In order to sell the house for its maximum value, we also completed 3 months of renovations that had been lingering for over 3 years. We wrapped up 2 businesses and left a town and tight knit community that we both cherished. We did all of this in order to seek out a life of freedom, away from the hustle and bustle of the 9-5 life, but most importantly, we did it so that we could travel. This is our story…….


As promised, Amanda picked us up from the bus drop off location upon our arrival.  We were riding on the Tica Bus, a bus line just as fancy as Greyhound Bus, from San Jose, Costa Rica.  After 7 hours, which included an hour or so stop at the Nicaragua border to obtain our entrance visas, we had arrived in Nandaime, a small town south of the more popular tourist stop of Granada.

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Volcano Power vs. Wind Power!  This was viewed out of our Bus window shortly after we crossed the border.  This volcano is one of 2 that make up the Island of Ometepe in Lake Nicaragua, the largest lake in Central America.  

Amanda told us to look for the grubby girl in a dirty red truck, and sure enough we spotted her as she drove up the road to grab us.  We were greeted with enthusiastic hugs, and we were immediately enamoured with her positive and energetic personality.  ‘Yup, we are going to get along just fine,’ I thought to myself as we drove off to her farm.


We had heard about Amanda and her Earth Bag house project from a girl that I volunteered with at Envision Festival in Costa Rica, back in February.  Magda told us that Amanda is always taking volunteers to help her to bring her project to fruition.  At the time, and knowing that we were headed up to Nicaragua at some point, I stashed the thought in the back of my mind, knowing that at the VERY least, we would want to check the project out.  We have both been involved in numerous workshops and very small building projects to do with Cob building etc. on the West Coast of Canada, but had never seen a Earth Bag house.  Our curiosity was piqued.

When our time in Silencio (read my last blog post here) was coming to a close, and we were trying to figure out what we wanted to do next, we remembered Amanda’s project, and I immediately messaged her to see if it was possible to come and stay there and help out.  Of course, she wrote back right away, and the plan was set.  We were headed to Nicaragua!

After spending a few days in San Jose to purchase a laptop and some other art supply essentials, we were on our way!


Amanda is Nicaraguan-American and her house is being built on 12 acres of her Grandfathers land.  Having ditched the North American 9-5 Rat Race (or in her case 80 hours per week working) at the age of 24, she decided that it was time for a simpler life.  One where she can experience life, not just let it flash by.  She began her new journey by travelling around the world and volunteering on a couple earth build projects herself.  After doing all of that, she decided it was time to start her own project.  She had been to Nicaragua to visit her Grandparents numerous times, and was familiar with the land and it’s people.  With building costs exponentially cheaper down here, she felt like it would be a great place to construct her home base, while she continued to travel and work remotely.

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This is where we worked for Amanda.  Just outside Nandaime between the highway and the lake. 

Her Grandpa still lives in the country, but resides up in the Northern part near his coffee plantation.  The property that Amanda is building on has been a cashew plantation for numerous years.  You can imagine our delight when we realized that we could gorge out on tons of cashew fruit while we stayed there.

Immediately we were amazed with the difference in the Flora and Fauna than that of what we had left in Costa Rica.  Rich, diverse and alive hillsides, had been replaced with flat land, scrub brush and desert like conditions.  Of course, it was the dry season, so the layer of dust on the surface of the ground, that was constantly blowing around all over everything, is only around for a few months of the year.  But the climate was astonishingly dryer and much much different than what we had left only a few days before.

We were happy to still see numerous birds flitting about though.  The National Bird of Nicaragua, locally known as the Guarda Barranca (check it out here, it’s stunning!), but commonly referred to as the Mot Mot (my personal favourite name), was a frequent guest near our camp kitchen.  Their stunning colours captured our attention as they flitted about through the trees.  Butterflies were also numerous, as were the ever so persistent ants!  Chris and I had an absolute highway of ants about 2 feet wide that cut through our campsite every night.  Thousands of them marching back and forth, only once daylight had subsided.

Our modest Camp Kitchen! 

There was also another pest that resided on her farm that we had never even considered to be a possibility down here……TICKS!  They are smaller and more of a reddy-brown (they look exactly like freckles and moles!) than the ones that I know from the mountains in Canada, but they certainly behave the same.  Thankfully, we were told right away that there is no Lime Disease in Nicaragua, so at least that wasn’t a worry, but we were constantly brushing them off of us, and pulling the odd one out of our skin if they managed to evade our constant swipes, and had embedded themselves into our flesh.  They were so small that you could barely grab onto them, and quite often I would need to use tweezers to pull on them.  They were nasty little critters, and I have to say, not my favourite thing to have to deal with while staying there!

We ended up staying with Amanda for 3 weeks in total, and I have to say that we are pretty proud of ourselves for toughing it out so long.  The conditions were challenging, we were dirty all the time, it was sweltering hot with no relief until night fall, dust blew on everything in sight including our food, plates clothes etc., and the ticks…..well you can just imagine I’m sure.  However, the experience of it all far outweighed the trials and tribulations that we put up with, and we both came away learning a lot, and feeling like we had both contributed in meaningful ways.

Earth Bag Construction

First of all, I am certainly no expert on this, so please, click here to learn more about it.

We arrived after the walls had been erected, and the roof was just starting to be constructed.  When Amanda picked us up, she said that it had rained the night before, which was in her words, “terrifying.”

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You can see that the initial layer of exterior plaster is just starting to be applied on this section. After this layer there is a sturdier layer which includes lime which will be applied, this helps to seal out the weather.
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The roof trusses are just starting to be worked on.  You can see the stark difference in the landscape from where we were in Costa Rica.

This type of construction is done completely using earthen materials, clay, sand, straw, horse manure, and other natural ingredients, and it’s integrity depends wholly on being built in dry climates where you can depend on little to no rain during construction.  You can imagine what would happen if rain suddenly unleashed on the earthen plaster that covers the walls……it would all literally melt off.  Until you get the final Lime Plaster coat on the outside, that will repel water at best, and a sturdy roof with generous overhangs erected, the whole project is at the mercy of the weather.  With the rainy season scheduled to start any day, time was of the essence.

We arrived to the camp to find 2 girls from Austria and another guy from New Zealand, already volunteering.  Over the course of the project Amanda has had roughly 20 volunteers from all corners of the earth, help her on her land.  She advertises for volunteers through different online platforms, and also has physically hung posters around Granada and other local tourist spots, in order to entice volunteers to come and help her and learn about this type of construction.

Some of “the boys” working on the project. 

All natural building techniques lean very heavily on labour.  The materials are generally cheap, labour is not.  Amanda had a crew of about 10 Nica men ranging in age from 15-50 working on her house from the beginning.  Thankfully in Nicaragua, the labour is pretty cheap, but even with that, budgets run out eventually and it is therefore necessary to get volunteers in to do some of the less skilled, time consuming jobs that need to be done.  Mostly I worked on what I lovingly called “Stuffing Cracks”, but is actually referred to as plastering.  It involved creating a measured mix of Horse Manure, Clay and Sand, getting it to the right moisture consistency, and then physically pushing it into the spaces between the bags.  This provides a tight seal to reduce insects getting in, it smoothes the wall out so that putting the final plaster layer on is easier, and it helps to further stabilize the walls from expansion and contraction while moving from the wet to dry season.

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All of those cracks have to be stuffed!  And this is just the first inside room! 
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The start of my 3 weeks of work! 

In order to make the mix that I needed to do this, I literally walked around the farm and picked up dried horse poo from the ground.  Amanda referred to it as something similar to an easter egg hunt, and I will attest that this is true.  However, after a few days of hunting for sporadic piles here and there, I did finally find the hot spot where the horses get tied up every night……there was literally poo for days!  Throughout the process, I couldn’t help but thinking what my 19 year old self would think of my 41 year old self picking up horse poo.  I NEVER would have imagined that this would be my life some 20 years later……that’s for sure!

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Poo galore!
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Sifting small particles out of the clay and sand was a necessary step in order to get a very fine smooth plaster. 
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And the ultimate step and the easiest way to mix the mixtures is to stomp them with your bare feet!  Needless to say our feet had many layers of ground in dirt on them……ALL THE TIME! 

Having come from a hyper-organized corporate job, Amanda was all about using the white boards to create schedules and task lists each day.  Every morning as we ate our oatmeal breakfast, we would go over what needed to be done for the day, and she would assign tasks to people, depending on what they felt like doing.  Various projects came up including building a screen door for the shower, building bat boxes, putting a proper roof on the outhouse, shaping and tamping the pond (Chris’ job for the most part), planting trees and of course finishing the “stuffing.”  However, I did get a really cool job towards the end of our stint there.

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Chris working on the pond.  No, he didn’t dig it all by hand, but he shaped and tamped all the hard chinks down so a watertight seal can be put in the bottom at some point.  

After seeing some of my artwork, Amanda asked me to give a try at designing metal security windows for her house.  There were 10 windows in all, and 2 doors.  She had presented various ideas to professional welders, but they all said that her ideas weren’t practical, and they wanted to just do the typical metal work that everybody else had.  Obviously they didn’t have a creative bone in their bodies, so she leaned on those who did.  Within her Nicaraguan construction crew, she found 2 men that had welding experience and were willing to take on the project.  The first window took a bit of time, but after they got that going, they were rocking it!  It was an amazing experience to see my own concepts drawn up, and then to witness them get created and installed as a finished pieces.  So very rewarding, and one of my proudest moments as an artist thus far!

There were many more windows designed but sadly we left before they were installed.  We will return to take more photos for sure! 

We mostly worked about 4 hours each day, from 7:30 or 8:00 until about 12:00.  The afternoons were optional, and although it was sweltering hot most of the time, Chris and I did manage to swing a few afternoon shifts, just to help her keep moving ahead.  It’s a monumental task to build a house, one that I have experience in (coincidentally at the same age as she is), and we know the importance of keeping the momentum going.  2 days a week would be free, and because Amanda is also a traveller, and understands the importance of seeing and experiencing places, we generally would go on some sort of adventure on those days.  We visited an incredible local swimming spot, tucked way back in the woods and off the beaten track, and also hit up the popular colonial tourist city of Granada a few times, Laguna Apollo, a lake inside an extinct volcano crater, and some spectacular nurseries where we scouted for plants for the property.

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We were in 7th Heaven while cruising the nurseries for plants for Amanda’s property. 
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The view heading down the road into Laguna Apollo.  An extinct volcano crater that now is full of beautiful fresh water! 
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A locals only swim hole located well away from the beaten track.  Truly a little paradise. 
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The spectacular buildings of Colonial Granada. 

Our experience with Amanda was everything that we had hoped for.  We were both itching to do some heavy physical labour, we have been wanting to contribute to a project in a meaningful way, and of course, we always want to be able to hang out with locals and be part of the fabric of each community we visit.  Being located in a very rural part of Nicaragua meant that we were probably some of the first foreigners that many people in the community had seen.  We were able to practice Spanish and learn about their culture in a meaningful and educational way, we went to the church on Saturday nights to eat local Nicaraguan food, which helped them fundraise for the community,  plus we had a couple interesting nights at the local bar, where we were definitely the center of attention, and something new that the locals could gawk at.

Dinner at the church!  Cooked outside on an open fire! 

All in all, we are so thankful to have been able to take part in the project.  And the bonus is that we are now located only about an hour away from her for the next 4-5 months as we start our next housesitting gig.  So I am sure we will make our way out there again to visit her and check out her progress!

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Amanda’s house with the roof on it!  This is how we left it.  Can’t wait to go back and check it out in a month or so to see the progress, plus those windows! 

*Note to reader: I have so many more photos of our time spent in Nandaime.  Please head to our Facebook Page to see them all!

** If you or someone you know would like to volunteer for Amanda in Nicaragua, or if you have any questions about Earth Bag building, please email me at the address below and I will connect you.


Thanks for reading! Please know that above all else, I aim to inspire others to just get out and see the world. Traveling is such an enriching experience, and I can’t even comprehend how much it has shaped me as an individual. If you have ANY questions, or need travel advice of ANY kind, PLEASE don’t hesitate to email me at the address below! I will do my very best to help you in any way I can!

Xoxoxo Happy Travels!


Current Location: We are currently in Rivas, Nicaragua, waiting to start our 4.5 month housesitting job on May 10th.

Travelling Plans: We will be here until mid-late September while we full fill our housesitting job.

To head back to the beginning of our journey, and the moment we decided to sell all of our posessions to trave the world, click here.

To see more travelling photos, and to follow our progress on Facebook, please follow our Facebook page Just Some Wandering.

Please follow my Instagram Page Just Some Wandering by clicking on the bottom right hand corner of this feed.

To learn about where I have previously traveled, visit my Countries Page.

To see all of my blog post headings on one page, head over to my Blog Post Menu.

To email me directly, please do so anytime at jillamatt@me.com.

If you like my writing, and want to follow along on our journey, please put your email address in the right hand column to subscribe. That way all of my posts will go straight to your email inbox:)

You Can Envision It! Envision Festival 2018

Us and many others, I’m sure, came away inspired by what we heard, empowered to try and make a difference. And of course, the main message always was that if you can ENVISION it, then you can CREATE it!


Over the course of 9 months in 2017, my partner and I sold all of our possessions, including 2 vehicles, and a house full of stuff. In order to sell the house for its maximum value, we also completed 3 months of renovations that had been lingering for over 3 years. We wrapped up 2 businesses and left a town and tight knit community that we both cherished. We did all of this in order to seek out a life of freedom, away from the hustle and bustle of the 9-5 life, but most importantly, we did it so that we could travel. This is our story…….


As I sat down to write this post, I thought about ways that I could bring some humour into the familiar festival ways. You know the ones; the stinky and almost full porta-potties, the ridiculously long line-ups to get anything, the throngs of people pushing and bumping on the dance floor, the Squish of 1000’s of tents squeezed in together, leaving only small pathways between them, creating a blinding maze of zigging and zagging, every time you are to return to yours. But I have to say, in the aftermath of what was a spectacularly run festival, I find not much humour in it at all.

Sure, there were some toilets that left little to be desired, but really, they were cleaned frequently, and if you were smart about the ones you chose (Hint: don’t go in the first 4!), they weren’t bad at all. The line ups really weren’t all that long, and I have to say, that with roughly 5000 over the top friendly people attending the festival, the chit chats that took place in those line-ups made them flash by. Similarly, the dance floors were a happy bumping vibe, not too many people, plenty of room for everyone. And the tents, well, they were certainly squished in but coming and going was manageable for sure, and I must say, I enjoyed the challenge of finding ours each and every time.

One of my biggest take-aways from the 4 day festival was that I literally did not witness one bad exchange between any two people. I saw nobody who was drunk and unruly, yelling at their friends, nobody angry or upset. All that we saw, day in and day out, was happy people! Gloriously happy people!

Volunteering

My partner and I volunteered for Envision Festival this year. It was our first time volunteering for such an event and it was our first time attending Envision. It just happens that it’s held about 40 minutes south of where we have been living for the past 4 months in Costa Rica, so it seemed silly to not partake in some way or another. Volunteering seemed like a great option, it would save money, and it would give us an insiders look into the goings on of events of this nature. And like all good experiences, we have no regrets and are exceedingly happy that we took part in the way that we did. We each worked 3-6 hour shifts in our respective departments, and were able to enjoy the festival around those times as we wanted. With each shift came a meal voucher, so we would hit up the Cantina where the kitchen crew was constantly cooking up delicious food for the masses, and we would sit and mingle with other volunteers and staff alike, chatting about the world, where we come from, where we are going next.

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This is where I volunteered. We answered questions for many volunteers and checked them in and out of their shifts.
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The inside looking out and a couple of my co-working buddies.

There were people attending from all over the world, but I have to say that out of all the people that we met, I’m pretty sure the scales were tipped in Canada’s favour. I was astounded at the number of Canadians that were there! Like my good friend Joseph said “Canadians are always well represented at cool events!”

But many other places were well represented as well, including a large contingent from Costa Rica itself. The Ticos were many and could be seen not only just taking the festival in, but also volunteering and working the festival grounds.  We met people from many places in Europe, South and Central America, North America and many other places in between.  It was truly diverse.

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Volunteer/Staff Meal time!

Why do you want to go?

I was asked this question a few times before heading to the festival.  Of course, the main focus of most festivals is around the music, but this wasn’t my interest.  There was an astounding yoga component to this festival, and I’m pretty sure there was a different yoga class happening at least every 2 hours through the day, if not more, but we weren’t going for yoga (but we probably should have been).  There were plenty of lectures planned and lots of opportunity to learn about all manner of things to do with different thoughts on Society, the Environment,  living in alternative communities and the like, and I knew that I would partake in some of these along the way.

But, as an artist and creator, my answer always somehow revolved around wanting to witness the artwork, of which I had heard great things.  I knew there would be a ton of art and I couldn’t wait to feast my eyes on it, but I also had another reason to want to go.  I wanted to meet more people of a similar mindset to me.  I wanted to find more people that I could slot into my growing global community of friends.  I knew that these sorts of festivals draw a different crowd.  These festivals draw people who want to see the world in a different way.  They draw people who want to step away from the 9-5 corporate life, those who wish to seek out a life of purpose, one of passion, one of building community and one of making the world a better place.

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I was not disappointed!

Well, I can assure you that I was not disappointed!  To begin with, the artwork…….well the artwork was simply breathtaking!  Over the course of the weekend, we witnessed several paintings evolve that were being live painted throughout the day and night.  This included large scale pieces by famous South and Central American artists, and also smaller canvasses by many up and coming and renowned artists from the United States and beyond.  The art gallery was literally dripping in talents from all sorts of different people, from all stages of life.  I would lazily stroll through, numerous times in a night, always finding something that I hadn’t noticed before, always coming out more amazed then when I went in.

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The Luna Stage was incredibly oranate and this photo really doesn’t do it justice.  At night the various sections were lit up each with their own visual displays.  It was absolutely incredible!
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Similarly the Audio Visual booth to this stage was breathtakingly beautiful!
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Just a sample of the show at night!

After dark was when colours, sounds and lights would come to life!  The stages were lit up with the most incredible audiovisual displays that I have ever seen, and we would spend most of our time at night wandering from art piece to art piece, watching each canvas evolve and transform over time.  And although we didn’t take many pictures of some of our favourites, their memories are etched into our brains, in a certain section that is reserved for the magical things we see in life.  We listened to some music (it was impossible not to), danced a little here and there, but we were mostly focused on seeing the art.  We loved the art, and we came away incredibly inspired.

We also were not disappointed with the people that we met!  We met some great new friends that we have appropriately slotted into our growing global community.  And of course, Facebook is such a great way to continue to keep in touch with our new friends, many of which are full time travellers themselves, and others that are now being  convinced to become them.

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This incredible piece was over 20ft tall!

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We c ircled back to this quite often and many times missed seeing the person painting it, yet there would be huge new sections finished.  The final piece is simply amazing!

We had many invigorating and interesting conversations with people that we met while we waited in lines, or while we sat in the village during lazy afternoons.  Conversations revolved around ways that people were passionate to see a change in the world, how they felt that they could make a difference.  It was inspiring to have deep conversations with complete strangers, about things that normally are reserved for close friends, or people that we know are on the same page as us.  It seemed though, that most people at Envision were on the same page as us.

The Village

The village was the central hub of the festival, and where much of the daytime activity happened.  Around one side of the village was the food vendors where one could find many different options of good wholesome quality food being served.  This was not a place with deep fried doughnuts, mars bars or chicken nuggets!  These vendors prepared fresh, wholesome food, many times vegan or vegetarian, and always healthy.  There was a local craft beer booth, Envision Festival coffee, roasted specifically for this years festival, vegan hamburgers, smoothies, Thai Wraps, wood fired pizza and so much more!  Everyday we found ourselves wandering up and down from booth to booth trying to decide what delectable thing we would try next.

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Chill time in the Village!  The heart of the festival grounds.
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Lots of relaxing, hanging out and meeting new friends!

Envision is officially a Zero Waste festival meaning that at the end of it all, there would be as little garbage as possible to deal with.  This meant that they had a plate and cup exchange program.  If you didn’t have your own, you could rent one for $3 from the first vendor that you visited.  When you were finished with your plate, there was a dish pit where you could drop your plate off to get a voucher for a new plate, that you would give to the next vendor and so on and so on.  There were also numerous bins set up for compost, recyclables, Etc.  All of this went to a massive central hub that sorted and recycled anything that could be, and then composted the rest.  Of course, there were always pieces of non-recyclable plastic in the actual “garbage” bin, but it was definitely not the fullest bin of them all, which was nice to see.

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How food is meant to be served! On a Banana Leaf!  The lettuce is my Gluten Free bun to an incredible veggie burger!
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There was always a bit of a line up at the Coffee Booth!

The other side of the village was lined with various artisans booths filled with all manner of exquisite creations.  From delectable dehydrated goodies (we tried dehydrated watermelon!), to the most impossibly intricate Guatemalan beaded necklaces, to funky festival clothing, jewellery, face paints and stunning tapestries, all manner of creations were very well represented.  We spent as little time as possible strolling through this zone as it was nothing but a HUGE temptation to spend money on more THINGS!  However, we did both come away with a couple items to remember the festival by.

During the days, if we weren’t working, we would lay our ground sheet down in the center of the village and sit and draw, trying endlessly to get out the inspiration that we had taken in, and would chat with many other’s that were relaxing in the shade and just taking it all in.  Above us stood massive palms and other trees, providing a welcome umbrella from the unrelentingly hot Costa Rican sun that was blazing above.  Once in a while I would see a lone Howler monkey crawling around, hanging out on the branches and looking down at us and I’m sure, wondering what the heck we were all doing there. And one morning I heard the familiar call of a Toucan high up in the trees, and was able to spot it and show it to someone else before it hastily flew away.  Drums were being played, songs were being sung, it was peaceful, it was serene, but best of all it was a community.  A community of people that seemed intent, at least in those moments, of working together to find ways to make the world a better place to live, of helping each other out, and of caring for each other.

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The always bumping and hopping beach stage!
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Intricately built using bamboo!

Presentations/Workshops/Inspirations

On the edges of the village, and throughout the grounds, there were different stages that had constant presentations going on.  As we sat in the shade and relaxed, we were able to listen to one or the other and tune in to what we wanted to hear.  Topics of these presentations were diverse, but many could be heard about how we can instill change in the planet, about what we can do to make a difference.  It was at times impossible to walk from one place to the next without hearing some sort of important message being told on a nearby stage.  Us and many others, I’m sure,  came away inspired by what we heard, empowered to try and make a difference.  And of course, the main message always was that if you can ENVISION it, then you can CREATE it!

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So much art!
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There were light hearted, yet serious signs like this scattered all over the grounds!  A potent reminder to stay hydrated and healthy in the extreme climate. One of my favourites was “Friends don’t let friends get dehydrated!”  This one reminded me to grab my water bottle at one point!

Drugs, Alcohol and Shenanigans

Of course, like all festivals of this type, there was a very obvious drug component to the festival, and I would be dishonest in my post if I didn’t report on this aspect as well.  However, as with any of these events, you can partake in any way that you see fit.  Sure drugs were being sold, and the craft beer booth was always busy, but there were also families there with young children.  Parents who maybe wanted to introduce their kids to a different type of community than the one they live in back home.  Possibly there were parents who wanted to expose their kids to more artwork and creativity.

There are so many different reasons for people to want to attend this festival, from yogis to artists, musicians to climate change specialists, people from all walks of life were very well represented.  It’s unfortunate that in some peoples eyes, Envision is just another “rave” or party where people are getting wired on all sorts of things.  Of course that is going on as well, as it does everywhere in the world, but I would say that the majority are there for so many other reasons, and really “Drugs” is definitely not the most important one.

You Should GO!

If you are planning a trip to Costa Rica next year, I highly recommend this experience!  Because that is what it is……..an EXPERIENCE!  It is an experience like no other and if you open yourself up to that, and just take in the parts of the festival that you are interested in, I can assure you that you will not be disappointed!  As for us…….we will be back for sure!  In what capacity, I can’t say for certain, but we were both very inspired by it and I can imagine will continue to be involved in one way or the other in the coming years.

To check out the Envision Festival website head to: www.envisionfestival.com.  Here you will find all the information you need to learn about the festival, volunteer, be a guest artist, performer and more!  Check it out and get involved!


Thanks for reading! Please know that above all else, I aim to inspire others to just get out and see the world. Traveling is such an enriching experience, and I can’t even comprehend how much it has shaped me as an individual. If you have ANY questions, or need travel advice of ANY kind, PLEASE don’t hesitate to email me at the address below! I will do my very best to help you in any way I can!

Xoxoxo Happy Travels!


Current Location: We are managing a Cabina on the beach at Playa Matapalo, between Quepos and Dominical, in Costa Rica. If you are travelling in the area, please get in touch! We would love to connect with fellow travellers!

Travelling Plans: On March 15th we are headed up into the Costa Rica mountains to stay at our friends farm in the jungle.  There we will be helping him with some large landscaping projects for 5-6 weeks.  After that we have been accepted to housesit at a house in Rivas, Nicaragua beginning May 4th.  We will be there for 4.5 months.  To learn how you can housesit, click here.

To head back to the beginning of our journey, and the moment we decided to sell all of our posessions to trave the world, click here.

To see more travelling photos, and to follow our progress on Facebook, please follow our Facebook page Just Some Wandering.

Please follow my Instagram Page Just Some Wandering by clicking on the bottom right hand corner of this feed.

To learn about where I have previously traveled, visit my Countries Page.

To see all of my blog post headings on one page, head over to my Blog Post Menu.

To email me directly, please do so anytime at jillamatt@me.com.

If you like my writing, and want to follow along on our journey, please put your email address in the right hand column to subscribe. That way all of my posts will go straight to your email inbox:)

 

 

Life as a Digital Nomad – January 2018

All in all, life is pretty darn dandy down in the tropics! We have chosen this life, and we are making it work. One day at a time!


In 2017 my partner and I sold all of our posessions to hit the road and seek out a life of travel. “Life as a Digital Nomad” is a monthly series of posts that keep people updated on how we are now carving out a life and making a living while being on the road full time.


We have now been on the road for 3 months.  For the last 10 weeks, we have been living in a small town on the South West Coast of Costa Rica, called Matapalo.  While we didn’t expect to be here this long, we are feeling very blessed for the opportunities that have come our way.

After our housesitting job ended on December 30th, we transitioned nicely, 2 doors down into Managing a small 2 unit Cabina Rental (read that post here). The owner had to leave town suddenly, and needed someone to take care of his customers over the busy season.  This has brought us not only more free accomodation, but a little bit of income on top of it all.

Obviously this removes a fair amount of concern regarding our very survival, and how we are currently feeding ourselves.  But of course, we know that this won’t last forever.

Chris has taken a bit of a break from his tattooing.  After a booming business with the locals in early December, the holiday season didn’t bring many people wanting new ink, which is not surprising.  However, talk has started again about some of his past clients wanting more, and he is still handing out cards to tourists in the area.

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We created a double sided business card that we ordered from Vista Print.  We had them shipped to the lady that owns the house where we were housesitting as she lives in the States, and she brought them down for us.

I am continuously trying to build up my online shops that are selling my digital designs on any number of items; Duvet Covers, Shower Curtains, Cell Phone Cases, Throw Pillows and more!

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This is one of my newest designs and is already quite popular. It’s called “Copper Leaves” and you can find it on many home decor and accessory items in my Society 6 store and my Etsy shop. (Click highlighted text to go straight there!)

Valentines Day is around the corner and I have created some fun Valentines Day Fractals that will please that favourite valentine of yours!

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This image is called “Stacking Hearts” and is now available in my Society 6 shop.  Click here to shop this design.
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This image is called “Heart of the Mandelbrot” and is available on many different items in my Society 6 store. Click here to shop this design.
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This image is called “Strawberry Cream” and it’s available on these items and much more in my Society 6 shop, and on leggings and tank tops in my Etsy shop.

For those who aren’t into Fractals, I have many other designs as well!  These are all digitally created on my iPad, and are also available on many different items.  Check them all out here


I have been promoting these items and pages on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Pinterest with some success.  Although sales are not staggering, I’m certainly seeing growth and an increased sales since starting about 7 weeks ago.  I have read reports that people earn in excess of $5000/month in some of these types of shops, so I am dam well determined to keep at it!

I have also recently started a Fine Art America shop where I am posting my actual photography from our travels.  It is an online market place that caters to mostly photographers. Customers can buy high end prints, framed or unframed, plus Giclee printed canvasses and other items with the images on them such as mugs, cell phone cases, notebooks and more.

This is just a sampling of photos that I have uploaded.  To see more of my photography at Fine Art America, click here.  Eventually I will be adding pictures of our trip In 2015 to Greece, Bulgaria and Italy, plus much more as we move around in the future.  


Although all of this has been attempted by me in the past, I have to say that I never had the time required to really dedicate myself to getting these sites going the way they should be.  It is a FULL TIME JOB!  I spend anywhere from 4-7 hours per day working at this.  It takes time and dedication to upload images, create well thought out descriptions, do the appropriate tagging so that they can be found in searches, and on and on and on.

I have also been educating myself about target marketing, SEO searches, and numerous other things that go along with trying to make a living online.  It is a lot of work, but with dedication and perserverance, I can see it paying off in the long run!  Not too mention that I get to stare at art all day!  How much fun is that!!??


All in all, life is pretty darn dandy down in the tropics!  We have chosen this life, and we are making work.  One day at a time!

I hope this post inspires you to get out there and live your life with passion.  We didn’t know if this whole hairbrained idea was going to work, but we felt like life was too short to not at least give it a try!

All the best to you all from Costa Rica!

xo Jill


Thanks for reading! Please know that above all else, I aim to inspire others to just get out and see the world. Traveling is such an enriching experience, and I can’t even comprehend how much it has shaped me as an individual. If you have ANY questions, or need travel advice of ANY kind, PLEASE don’t hesitate to email me at the address below! I will do my very best to help you in any way I can!

Xoxoxo Happy Travels!


Current Location: We are managing a Cabina on the beach at Playa Matapalo, between Quepos and Dominical, in Costa Rica. If you are travelling in the area, please get in touch! We would love to connect with fellow travellers!

To follow my art page on Facebook, please head to Jillian Amatt Designs

To see more photos, and to follow our progress on Facebook, please follow our Facebook page Just Some Wandering.

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To learn about where I have previously traveled, visit my Countries Page.

To see all of my blog post headings on one page, head over to my Blog Post Menu.

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To email me directly, please do so anytime at jillamatt@me.com.

 

January 11th, 2018 – One Year Later


Over the course of 9 months in 2017, my partner and I sold all of our possessions, including 2 vehicles, and a house full of stuff. In order to sell the house for its maximum value, we also completed 3 months of renovations that had been lingering for over 3 years. We wrapped up 2 businesses and left a town and tight knit community that we both cherished. We did all of this in order to seek out a life of freedom, away from the hustle and bustle of the 9-5 life, but most importantly, we did it so that we could travel. This is our story…….


Today marks one year since we made this crazy decision to sell all of our things, to not only seek out a life of travel, but to free ourselves of the burdens that society had placed on us.  (To read my post that day, click here.)

We had found ourselves suddenly drowning in debt with no clear picture of how we were going to get out of it.  We were living a life that seemed normal to others, but was terribly uninteresting and uninspiring to us.  We both made and created art, but because of our need to make money doing our “REAL” jobs, we didn’t have the time to properly sell it or promote it, something we really wanted to do.

We lived a life that was the epitome of being on the hamster wheel.  Running, running, running, working ourselves to utter exhaustion, but never getting ahead.

I asked myself all the time:  “Is there more to life than this?”

I knew there was, I knew there had to be, but I didn’t know how to get there.  I didn’t know how to pay all the bills at home, keep my house, keep my car, keep my things, keep my small business, and still do the thing that I really wanted to do…….travelling.

As I sat in my art studio one year ago, I was watching ‘Minimalism’ a new documentary that had just come out on Netflix, while working on my creations.  As I watched this enlightening documentary, in the most quintessential way possible, I had an epiphany.  It was as though a lightening bolt blasted down from the heavens and jolted me in the back of the head.  From that film, I suddenly realized that my house, my car, all of my stuff, was actually what was keeping me from travelling.  All of the stuff, was literally drowning us.  All of the stuff was what was making us feel like we were treading water.  All of the stuff was what was keeping me from doing what I wanted to do the most.

I say this in a first person narrative because Chris, at that point, hadn’t travelled a ton.  We had done a 6 week trip to Europe in 2015, and had done a 2 week trip to Mexico, but that was it.  He understood that he liked travelling, but he didn’t really know what it was like to LIVE in a different country, to really spend time learning different cultures, customs and traditions, and to learn about what makes different places tick.  He had had a taste, that was all.  But thankfully, he too decided that he wanted more.

On that fateful evening, we decided that enough was enough!  All of our stuff didn’t matter anymore!  The only thing that mattered was making our life count!  We knew in that moment, that we had some HUGE changes ahead of us, and we knew it would be a ton of work, but we were committed.  We had a plan, it was set, and we immediately got started on undoing the life we had built, to seek out a vastly different one.  One that was fulfilling, one that was inspiring, one that was EXCITING!

Fast forward one year later, and it all seems like a distant dream.  In nine months we held multiple garage sales, we sold items on Facebook, to friends, to neighbours.  We took mountains of things to the thrift store and inevitably, the dump.  We finished renovations on our house that had been half done for over 3 years.  We sold our vehicles and our house.  We closed down our business’ and we worked our butts off to pay off as much debt as possible.  We stopped drinking, eating out and buying things.  We completely flipped our life upside down, in order to make this happen, in order to unburden ourselves, in order to seek out a life of freedom.

It was not an easy ride!  We were utterly exhausted most of the time.  We put in as much effort as we physically could, and worked harder than either of us ever had before.  But guess what?  It worked!  We did it!

Our life has gone from “normal” to extraordinary, and it happened all in 9 months!


Today I sit in Costa Rica, staring out to the waves breaking, to the pelicans soaring by, and sometimes, to a sloth climbing the tree in our front yard.  Today I feel FREE!  Today the worries about money, how I’m going to pay the next bill, how I’m going to find the next client, and how I’m going to be able to travel again, are gone.  Literally gone!

Don’t get me wrong, life is not a perfect, easy, breezy time, all of the time.  Of course, we are both working on ways to secure a financial future, as the money we now have will run out eventually.  But we are doing it with clear intentions.  We are focussing on what is important to us.  We are seeking out those things that inspire us, that motivate us, that move us.  We are going where the wind blows us.  When we see a good opportunity, we take it.  If we don’t like the situation we are in, we change it.  We don’t owe anyone our time.  We certainly don’t owe anyone our souls.  We are in charge of what we do, that is it, that is all.

Many people we meet ask the same question over and over again.  They hear about what we are doing now, but then they can’t help but ask “But what about your future?  What is your plan for the future?”

Well, the answer if simple.  We have no real plan for our future.  We are simply just being.  Being in the moment, taking life one day at a time, enjoying ourselves and really getting to know ourselves.  We have given ourselves the gift of presence.  We have given ourselves the gift of living each day as it comes.  We don’t know what is around the corner, and quite frankly we like it that way.  Our future is not some construct that we have laid out, hoping that all of the pieces fall into place the way that we have planned.  Our future is determined one day at a time.  Each day determines tomorrow’s path.  Each day brings new directions, new thoughts, and new opportunities.

And so, I ask you this.  Are you living a life that is inspiring and exciting?  Is there something that you would like to do, but just can’t quite figure out how to do it?

My advice is simple, take a hard look around you and find ways to let go of what is burdening you.  Maybe you are like me and you realize that it is your stuff that is weighing you down.  But maybe it is your job, your relationship, the place you live, the people you surround yourself with?  There can be any number of things that we carry around with us that are holding us back from doing what it is that we really want to do in life.  But it is up to us, and ONLY us, to figure those things out, to let go of those things, and to build a life that we truly love.

Pura Vida from Costa Rica!

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Thanks for reading! Please know that above all else, I aim to inspire others to just get out and see the world. Traveling is such an enriching experience, and I can’t even comprehend how much it has shaped me as an individual. If you have ANY questions, or need travel advice of ANY kind, PLEASE don’t hesitate to email me at the address below! I will do my very best to help you in any way I can!

Xoxoxo Happy Travels!


Current Location: We are managing a Cabina on the beach at Playa Matapalo, between Quepos and Dominical, in Costa Rica. If you are travelling in the area, please get in touch! We would love to connect with fellow travellers!

To see more photos, and to follow our progress on Facebook, please follow our Facebook page Just Some Wandering.

Please follow my Instagram Page Just Some Wandering by clicking on the bottom right hand corner of this feed.

To learn about where I have previously traveled, visit my Countries Page.

To see all of my blog post headings on one page, head over to my Blog Post Menu.

To email me directly, please do so anytime at jillamatt@me.com.

 

 

 

 

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